La Salle Hosts Winton Woods In Marquee DII Matchup

10/25/2019

Posted on 10/25/2019 at 10:56 a.m.

Elder Gets Tune-Up At Pit; St. Xavier, Moeller Head To NE Ohio Saturday

Before the kickoff of the season, most local high school football analysts circled tonight’s La Salle-Winton Woods matchup as a potential preview of Division II, Region 8 final assuming the pairings shaped up correctly.  Few would have imagined that the game would be a must-win in order for one of the two teams to qualify for the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Football Tournament that begins in two weeks.  But that is exactly the case for Winton Woods as the talent-laden Warriors arrive at Lancer Stadium on the La Salle High School campus.  Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Elder, which is tied with La Salle atop the Greater Catholic League South Division standings and heading for its own trip to La Salle next Friday in a game that will decide the outright league champions, gets a final tune-up tonight when the Panthers host Clarkson Football North (3-5) from Mississauga, Ontario at 7 p.m. at The Pit in Price Hill.  The Panthers (7-1) – led by senior quarterback Matthew Luebbe – have won four straight since its lone loss at defending DI state champion Lakewood St. Edward, 42-25.  Luebbe leads the GCL South in rushing yards, having carried 98 times for 793 yards – an incredible 11.6-yard average per rush – with 11 touchdowns.  He also ranks second in the league in passing yards, with 1,498 to go along with 16 TDs and just four interceptions.  Elder is averaging 41 points per game.

St. Xavier and Moeller will represent the GCL South against two perennial powers Saturday in Northeast Ohio.  The Bombers (6-2), who have dropped two of their last three games by a combined 10 points to Elder and La Salle, will head up Interstate 71 to face Cleveland St. Ignatius at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Byers Field in Parma.  Moeller (1-7), which has lost five consecutive games, takes that same route to Greater Cleveland and will oppose St. Edward at 4 p.m. at Lakewood High School.  Moeller lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius, 38-7, last Saturday at Princeton High School.  St. Edward has won seven straight games since a season-opening, 29-28 loss to unbeaten Mentor, which is No. 1 in the Associated Press Division I state poll.

St. Ignatius (4-4) has won the last two meeting in the series, including a 27-20 win at St. Xavier Stadium on October 20 last season.  The perennial state powers from different corners of Ohio met in the 2016 DI state final at Ohio Stadium, when the Bombers completed their improbable run to the school’s third state championship with a 27-20 win in double overtime.  That year, St. Xavier became the first team in Ohio state playoff history to enter the postseason at 5-5 and reel off five wins in a row to earn a state title.  The Bombers also won state crowns in 2005 and 2007.

Elder and St. Xavier have both clinched state playoff berths, according to JoeEitel.com, an unofficial website that projects the Harbin computer ratings all season.  In this week’s official ratings, released Tuesday by the OHSAA, Elder and St. Xavier are second and third, respectively, in DI, Region 4 – trailing only Fairfield, which is the lone remaining undefeated team in Greater Cincinnati in the region.  Elder, which is No. 5 in this week’s AP DI state poll, is in prime position to host a first-round game, as is St. Xavier – which dropped to No. 10 in the AP state rankings.  According to Joe Eitel’s site, Elder and St. Xavier are in the playoffs but Fairfield is the only team that has already clinched a first-round home game.  State playoff games after the first week are all played at neutral sites.

La Salle enters tonight at No. 2 in Region 8 – trailing only Turpin, which remained undefeated with a come-from-behind, 29-28 win against rival Anderson last week to take over sole possession of first place in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference.  The Lancers are ranked No. 4 in this week’s AP DII state poll and, according to Joe Eitel, control their own destiny as it relates to qualifying for the postseason and hosting a first-round game.  If victorious in either of both of their final two games against Winton Woods and Elder, the Lancers would almost assuredly earn enough computer points to host a game.  But it won’t be easy, beginning with the Warriors tonight.  Winton Woods’ only losses this year are to St. Edward, highly regarded Christian Brother from Missouri on the road, and then Elder, 32-27, last week.

La Salle’s lone blemish on its record came two weeks ago at Covington Catholic, 27-7.  CovCath has now won 29 consecutive regular-season games and has held eight of its nine opponents entering a game tonight at Conner in single digits, posting five shutouts.  The La Salle-Winton Woods series has been a good one in recent years.  La Salle defeated Winton Woods, 20-13, during the 2016 regular season en route to winning its third straight DII state title.  The following year, Winton Woods knocked off the Lancers twice – 18-15 during the regular season and then 16-14 in the regional final.  Winton Woods went on to finish 13-2 that year and advanced to the DII state title game.